Sink or Swim: Four Tips to Remember if You're Drowning in Work

Sink or Swim: Four Tips to Remember if You're Drowning in Work

By: Sabrina Kan | Communication Co-op Student
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Picture this: you’re a fresh, bright-eyed Communication student in your first co-op placement at Samsung, except you have zero tech knowledge and all the other co-ops are STEM majors. You already feel like a fish out of water, but flash forward a month and things are going swimmingly; you’re starting to think that maybe this technology business isn’t so bad after all!

And then your supervisor tells you he’s leaving on a work trip to Korea for two weeks. You take a second to process this, and you look a bit piscine as you open and close your mouth a few times. A million thoughts race through your head: what am I going to do while he’s gone? Who am I going to ask for help? Who’s going to bail me out if I get myself into hot water?

via GIPHY

The day of reckoning arrives, and you’re chucked into the deep end without any floaties. Cue the barrage of technical questions and content requests that you have no idea how to address—in this sink or swim situation, you’re definitely not doing much of the latter.

If you’re anything like me and your metaphorical fishbowl of comfort was just shattered, I have a few tips to help you survive feeling lost in a sea of work:

  1. Go with the flow—Sometimes a minor setback can wash away all of your plans for the day. I organized my tasks by a triage system so I could tackle the most critical issues first; sometimes this meant dropping something I was working on to address another, more important task. Remember to stay flexible and not sweat the small stuff, because you’ll be more open to new oppor-tuna-ties that way.
  2. Don’t be afraid to drop a line—Yes, everyone else is probably super busy and you don’t want to flood them with questions, but keep in mind that you’re also helping them out by taking some of the work off their backs. I personally reached out to others who had expertise in the tasks I was tackling, remembering not to take their help for granted. How else are you going to learn otherwise.
  3. Scale back the workload—I get it, you’re passionate and want to show your team that you’re capable and efficient. I know I definitely took on a few too many side projects for comfort! Not to burst your bubble of enthusiasm, but the best way to do that is to make sure you aren’t overloading yourself with stress. Take it easy!
  4. Just keep swimming—Ah, the old adage: even if you’re feeling way in over your head, it’s important to take a step back and realize that sometimes you just have to slog through it. Break down your workload and you might find that things feel ever-so-slightly more manageable. Also, don’t forget that it’ll be water under the bridge soon; that’s one of the best things about being in co-op!  

Okay, I’m sorry about the cod-awful puns. I whale-y need to stop now, it’s getting eel-y bad.


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Posted on July 18, 2019